Several New York pols are pushing to have breathalyzers installed in every school bus in the entire state. You might be thinking, “does New York really have a drunk bus driver problem?” Well, yeah, it does.
In the last two weeks, two school bus drivers have been accused of driving a bus while drunk. As we reported earlier this month, one of those drivers crashed the bus into a house on Long Island.
To solve New York’s drunk bus driver problem, Nassau County District Attorney Kathleen Rice and state Senator Charles Fuschillo are pushing a bill that would require ignition interlock devices be installed on all school buses throughout the state.
Ignition interlock devices are the same gadgets that judges often require
repeat drunk drivers instal in their vehicles — they require the driver
to blow into a breathalyzer in order to start the vehicle. If alcohol
is detected, the vehicle won’t start.
“School bus drivers
literally hold students lives in their hands,” says Fuschillo, the
chairman of the Senate’s Transportation Committee. “We have strong laws
to hold bus drivers accountable after they have been drinking; now we
need to prevent them from even having the chance to drive drunk behind
the wheel of a bus. Requiring school buses to be equipped with ignition
interlocks will provide a defense against drunk driving for children who
can’t defend themselves.”
If passed, New York would become the
first state in America — and probably anywhere — to require school bus
drivers to blow into a breathalyzer before doing their job.
As we mentioned, the bill is in response to two separate incidents of drunk school bus drivers in the last two weeks.
On October 3, 66-year-old Fredrick Flowers crashed the bus he was driving into a house while driving five kids home from St. Edward the
Confessor School. Authorities say Flowers passed out at the wheel and veered into the house on Teibrook
It was later determined that he was drunk, authorities say.
The kids on the bus ranged in age from 5 to 8. Luckily, none of them were injured.
Thursday, another bus driver, 48-year-old Robert Stundis, was arrested
for allegedly driving a school bus drunk in Ronkonkoma. At the time of
his arrest, his BAC was .23, and authorities found a half-empty bottle of
vodka on the bus.
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on October 17, 2012